Archive for December, 2011

12 New Year’s Marketing Resolutions You Can Actually Keep

Saturday, December 31st, 2011

new years fireworks resized 600With 2012 just around the corner, it’s time to start thinking about your marketing strategy for the New Year. As more and more companies catch on to the most effective strategies for getting found online and generating more leads and customers, the future of inbound marketing is looking more competitive and fast-paced than ever. How will your business keep up?

Well here’s the good news. Whether you already have a strong marketing campaign in place or you’re just starting out, there are always ways to improve your strategy to drive better business. Here are 12 New Year’s resolutions that will help you to really amp up your marketing. And, hey, no need to wait. Go ahead and tweet them now to show everyone that you’re ready to take 2012 by storm.

12 New Year’s Resolutions for an Awesome Marketing Strategy in 2012

1) I resolve to build a killer keyword strategy and get my business to rank higher in Google organic search results. (Tweet this resolution!)

Why make this resolution? We all know that when consumers look for a product or service, they turn to search engines for answers. In fact, hundreds of millions of search queries are conducted on search engines every day! A successfully optimized search campaign can help your business generate more leads and get found by potential customers. The key to successful SEO is concentrating on long-tail keywords, which are associated with more qualified traffic and users that are most likely further down their path of intent. It’s crucial to craft your list of keywords carefully so you can optimize for search and ultimately rank higher in search results.

2) I resolve to build more inbound links into my website to really rock my off-page SEO. (Tweet this resolution!)

Why make this resolution? In search engine optimization, inbound links are a marketer’s most powerful asset. In fact, off-page SEO (as opposed to on-page SEO) accounts for the majority of a web page’s ability to rank for a particular keyword. Building authoritative and relevant links into your website from external sites is a critical part of your SEO strategy.

3) I resolve to take advantage of my business blog as a lead gen tool by writing tons more awesome, educational posts. (Tweet this resolution!)

Why make this resolution? Nearly 40% of US companies use blogs for marketing purposes. Companies that blog have 55% more website visitorsThe facts speak for themselves. Marketing data clearly shows that blogging is a critical piece of the inbound marketing methodology and directly correlates to better business results.

4) I resolve to put super attractive calls-to-action in my blog posts, emails sends, and – well – almost anywhere else. (Tweet this resolution!)

Why make this resolution? In order to survive in today’s attention economy, you need calls-to-action. They have the power to grab people’s attention and direct it to your offers. In other words, CTAs point traffic to your offers and help you generate leads.

5) I resolve to build stronger relationships with my prospects by engaging with them more in social media. (Tweet this resolution!)

Why make this resolution? Today, using social media to direct traffic to your website and generate new leads is an indispensable part of your marketing mix. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+ all give you the opportunity to engage with your prospects and build relationships with them, making it more likely that you’ll be able to convert them into leads for your business.

6) I resolve to optimize my website for mobile and learn more about how to make the most of mobile marketing. (Tweet this resolution!)

Why make this resolution? 85% of mobile devices will be web-enabled by next year, and it’s likely that by 2013, the #1 way consumers will access the internet will be through their mobile devices. With such rapid growth, marketers simply can’t afford to ignore mobile phone users.

7) I resolve to build some seriously stunning landing pages and optimize them for converting more visitors into leads. (Tweet this resolution!)

Why make this resolution? Landing pages are one of the most important elements of lead generation. In fact, according to MarketingSherpa’s research, landing pages are effective for 94% of B2B and B2C companies. Building effective landing pages allows you to direct your website visitors to targeted pages and capture leads at a much higher rate.

8) I resolve to generate more leads for my sales team so we can get some crazy lead-to-customer conversion going. (Tweet this resolution!)

Why make this resolution? Well, this one should be pretty obvious. After all, what business doesn’t want more revenue-generating customers? The way to get there is to drive as many qualified leads as possible with all sorts of tools, including social media, blogging, and content creation.

9) I resolve to make my lead nurturing campaigns more personal and relevant because, hey, my emails deserve to be read. (Tweet this resolution!)

Why make this resolution? 50% of leads are qualified but not ready to buy. So if you’re not nurturing them, you are simply burning money. Lead nurturing is all about understanding the nuances of your leads’ timing and needs, and it enables marketers to establish contact fast and stay top of mind for prospects.

10) I resolve to experiment with marketing automation and use it to provide helpful content, not sales pitches or spam. (Tweet this resolution!)

Why make this resolution? Marketing automation is an extremely powerful tool and one of the fastest growing parts of the industry, but still, many marketers abuse it. It’s crucial to keep your emails customer-focused and relevant to their needs; not use them to pressure your leads to buy. When used correctly, marketing automation can drastically improve the efficiency and effectiveness of your lead nurturing strategy.

11) I resolve to A/B test my landing pages and email campaigns like a pro and keep finding new ways to optimize them. (Tweet this resolution!)

Why make this resolution? You spend a lot of time and effort designing websites, landing pages, forms, and email campaigns, so of course you’ll want to optimize them for the best possible results. This is where the power of A/B testing comes in. By creating variations of your pages and emails to test various elements, you can collect useful data that will show you which one yields higher conversion rates.

12) I resolve to track my analytics closely and use them to make data-driven decisions to improve my marketing strategy. (Tweet this resolution!)

Why you should make this resolution: Analytics can provide amazing insight into your marketing campaigns and inform changes that could significantly improve your results. It’s extremely important to track your progress so that, for every aspect of your inbound marketing strategy, you can figure out where you stand, where you want to stand, and what you need to do to get there.

Get started on these resolutions, and stay ahead of the curve by really focusing on your inbound marketing strategy in 2012. We know you can do it. Here’s to a year full of abundant lead generation, happy customers, and better business!

What marketing tactics do you have planned for 2012? What’s your top marketing resolution?

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Facebook Launches Customized Calls-to-Action for Apps

Saturday, December 31st, 2011

facebook call to actionCalls-to-action and social media are two crucial components of your inbound lead generation efforts. So it only makes sense that you would want to combine the power of killer calls-to-action and your bourgeoning Facebook presence to supercharge that effort. If you’re a HubSpot customer, you’ve been able to use the Facebook Welcome app or the Social Landing Pages app to turn likes into leads. But is there another way to do it for the rest of the world?

According to Sprout Insights, there will be soon! Starting in January, Facebook will let you convert more leads on the social network when they begin approving actions other than just “Like” for apps. That means in order to use this new call-to-action functionality, you need to create a Facebook app. Unless you are particularly tech savvy, the developer of that app will need to get involved in the process of creating the call-to-action, as it isn’t something that is simply enabled with the flick of a switch. If you do have a Facebook app or are considering creating one for your 2012 marketing plans, let’s dive into how to obtain the new call-to-action Facebook feature.

What Are the Details?

While Facebook developers said they anticipate being ready to approve Open Graph calls-to-action in January, they also said approvals will not begin until Timeline had finished rolling out. As anyone who has been following the Facebook Timeline rollout knows, that has been a little stop and go, so keep this January start date relatively fluid. We will also keep you informed if a more concrete date is announced.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t start asking your developer to prepare for your call-to-action submission. In fact, you can submit as many calls-to-action as you want. You simply have to submit each one for approval separately (get ready for some fun A/B testing!). Each call-to-action must also be accompanied with instructions that explain exactly how the action is triggered, which Facebook explains in more detail on its developer site.

Once your call-to-action is approved, you’ll receive both an email and a Facebook notification, at which point your app can publish the call-to-action for all users to see. Just as with Facebook ads, if your call-to-action is rejected, you’ll receive an explanation for that rejection so you can make changes and resubmit for approval.

Why Facebook Calls-to-Action Rock for Marketers

Including calls-to-action on Facebook is just one more place to feed your lead generation machine outside of your website. The ever elusive “social media engagement” is now not only easier to monetize, and it extends beyond the passive “follow” or “like.” With a call-to-action, Facebookers are given the opportunity to engage with your brand in a much more action-oriented way. With Facebook calls-to-action, people can decide to not only “like” what you’re doing, but do something more engaging like “experiment with” your product or service. These are the behaviors of much more qualified leads, making it easier for you to tease out the low-hanging fruit leads to nurture that are much farther in the buying cycle than their previously passive actions may have indicated.

As HubSpot delves into this new tool, we’ll be sure to report back on what we learn, mistakes and all! Until then, do you think calls-to-action on Facebook will help improve the quality and quantity of leads you receive from it?

Image credit: Sean MacEntee

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The 5-Step Test to Determine Optimal Email Frequency

Saturday, December 31st, 2011

too much emailYou know there’s a delicate balance between infrequent email communications and bombarding your email recipients with messages to the point that they opt out. Maybe you’re interested in ramping up your email marketing in 2012 but don’t want to see all your hard lead generation work go to waste by increasing your sending frequency. How do you know what email sending frequency is the right frequency for your subscriber list?

If you guessed “test,” you’re right on the money! While we’ve performed tests and released research on email sending frequency, every brand’s email marketing campaign objectives and subscriber lists are unique and thus require fine-tuned testing to determine appropriate sending frequency.

So how do you get started with an email send frequency test? Many people have been nervous about performing this test for fear of ruining their lead generation efforts, but it really is quite simple. Let’s break down the steps you can take to perform this test so you can start understanding how often you should communicate with your email subscribers.

Step 1 – Establish Your Hypotheses

Take yourself back to high school science class, and channel your favorite lab partner. It’s important to determine what specific results you expect to see from these tests so you can identify success.

For example, you might hypothesize that increasing your email send frequency from once a week to three times a week will increase your click-through rate by 35%, or perhaps it will increase the number of “wheat bread” leads that move to the prospecting stage as a result of your nurturing by 15%. Or perhaps you have an unnervingly high opt-out rate, and you think decreasing your email send rate from daily to every other day will also decrease your number of unsubscribes. You can (and should!) create more than one hypothesis to make the most out of these tests, and be extremely specific with the terms of your hypothesis.

Step 2 – Choose a List Segment

Think of this as your sample size. Since your email list is already segmented (right?), select one segment that you will test, and ensure it is sizable enough to provide meaningful data. Make sure the list segment you select also aligns with the hypotheses you are testing. For example, if you are testing for an increased offer click-through rate targeted toward prospects, it isn’t wise to test on a customer list segment. Instead, you might decide to choose a sample (a sample, not the entire list) from your blog subscriber list that is not only sizable enough to provide meaningful data, but is also used to receiving emails with offers from you.

Step 3 – Establish Baseline Metrics

Now that you know what you want to test and on whom, you can establish your current performance metrics for that sample. This step is crucial, because you need something against which to measure the results of your test. Note the email marketing metrics you’ll need in order to determine success in your test such as your open rate, deliverability rate, unsubscribe rate, and click-through rate for that particular sample.

And don’t be afraid to expand your scope beyond traditional email marketing metrics to website performance metrics. For example, if you were to use the hypothesis of increasing an offer’s click-through rate, you would also be interested to know how many of the email recipients not only clicked through the email offer, but also completed the form required to obtain their offer.

Step 4 – Create and Schedule Your Test Emails

Create a handful of test emails to rotate through the list sample, following your regular email marketing best practices. Now is not the time to experiment with creative new subject lines, test a new sender in the “from” field, or create a new email template. These types of content changes can skew your results, and should be reserved for a separate set of tests.

Once you’ve created the emails, schedule them for the sending frequency you outlined in your hypothesis. For tests that exceed a week in duration, be sure to select the same days and times so as not to add another variable to the equation, as time of day and day of week has been known to skew results. Again, this is an important test to perform, but reserve it for another time.

Step 5 – Measure and Analyze Results

Measure your results against the hypotheses you established in the beginning and the baseline results you recorded. You should monitor results frequently throughout the experiment, too, so you can respond to any dramatic swings that may crop up because of your change in emailing frequency.

Are the results you’re seeing positive? Do they confirm the hypotheses you’ve outlined? Do they allow you to increase your email send even more to see positive gains to your bottom line without sacrificing things like the size or quality of your list? Or is a decrease in sending what’s in order? Now that you have a new baseline for success, iterate off of it by beginning a new email test, whether for frequency, template design, subject line, message copy, offer content, or any other host of items you can test to make your email marketing more effective.

Have you tested how frequently you should send emails to your subscriber base? What results did you find, and were any surprising departures from what you expected?

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The Ultimate Glossary: 120 Social Media Marketing Terms Explained

Friday, December 30th, 2011

describe the imageOn the web today, things change fast. New applications launch every day, and existing applications continue to evolve and add new features. Just this year we witnessed the debut of Google+ and the introduction of Facebook Timeline. Even the Merriam-Webster Dictionary started adding a few to its collection!

Thus, while we’re all learning about social media and inbound marketing as well as teaching others about it, having a resource that quickly and clearly explains all of the basic terms and applications is critically important.

I hope that you will pass this blog post along to others in your organization and maybe even print it out to have on hand when others have questions related to social media marketing. And for even more inbound marketing-related terms and definitions, check out The Ultimate Inbound Marketing Glossary.

Social Media Marketing Dictionary: 120 Terms to Know

A

AddThis – AddThis is a social bookmarking service that provides a code users can put on their websites so that when people visit that site, they have the option to share via Facebook, Twitter, etc. Its analytics service can show you which pages are trending, where people are interacting with your brand, and what they’re saying about your content on Twitter.

Algorithm – An algorithm is a set of formulas developed for a computer to perform a certain function. This is important in the social sphere as the algorithms sites like Facebook and Google use are critical for developing content-sharing strategies.

Application Programing Interface (API) – An API is a documented interface that allows one software application to interact with another application. An example of this is the Twitter API.

Avatar – An avatar is an image or username that represents a person online within forums and social networks.

B

BackType – BackType is a social media analytics company that helps companies measure their social engagement. Previously, the service started as a blog comment search engine.

Bitly – Bitly is a free URL shortening service that provides statistics for the links users share online. Bitly is popularly used to condense long URLs to make them easier to share on social networks such as Twitter.

Blip.TV – Blip.TV is an online video sharing site that provides a free and paid platform for individuals and companies who host an online video show.

Blog – Blog is a word that was created from two words: “web log.” Blogs are usually maintained by an individual or a business with regular entries of commentary, descriptions of events, or other material such as graphics or video. Entries are commonly displayed in reverse-chronological order. “Blog” can also be used as a verb, meaning to maintain or add content to a blog.

Blogger – Blogger is a free blogging platform owned by Google that allows individuals and companies to host and publish a blog typically on a subdomain. Example: yourblogname.blogspot.com

Blog Talk Radio – Blog Talk Radio is a free web application that allows users to host live online radio shows.

BoardReader – BoardReader is a free search engine that allows users to search for keywords only in posts and titles of online forums, a popular forum of social networking.

Boxee – Boxee is a social video application that allows users to watch online videos on their TVs and computers. Users can share and watch videos from a variety of online videos sources for free.

Bookmarking – Bookmarking online follows the same idea of placing a bookmark in a physical publication–you’re simply marking something you found important, enjoyed, or where you left off to continue reading later. The only difference online is that it’s happening through websites using one of the various bookmarking services available, such as Delicious.

C

Chat - Chat can refer to any kind of communication over the internet but traditionally refers to one-to-one communication through a text-based chat application commonly referred to as instant messaging applications.

Circles - Circles are clusters of a user’s friends on Google+, meaning you can group certain people you choose to connect with on your Google+ into a certain Circle–such as colleagues, college connections, family, etc. When you want to share content with only these individuals, you include that specific Circle in your post’s sharing options.

Collecta – Collecta is a real-time search engine that includes results from blogs, microblogs, news feeds, and photo sharing services as they are published.

Collective Intelligence – Collective intelligence is a shared or group intelligence that emerges from the collaboration and competition of many individuals and appears in consensus decision-making in social networks.

Comment – A comment is a response that is often provided as an answer or reaction to a blog post or message on a social network. Comments are a primary form of two-way communication on the social web.

Compete – Compete is a web-based application that offers users and businesses web analytics and enables people to compare and contrast the statistics for different websites over time.

Connections – The LinkedIn equivalent of a Facebook ‘friend’ is a ‘connection.’ Because LinkedIn is a social networking site, the people you are connecting with are not necessarily people you are friends with, but rather you met in brief, heard speak, or know through another connection.

Craigslist – Craigslist is a popular online commerce site in which users sell a variety of goods and services to other users. The service has been credited for causing the reduction of classified advertising in newspapers across the United States.

Creative Commons – Creative Commons is a nonprofit corporation dedicated to making it easier for people to share and build upon the work of others, consistent with the rules of copyright. It provides free licenses and other legal tools to mark creative work with the freedom the creator wants it to carry, so others can share, remix, use commercially, or any combination thereof.

D

Delicious – Delicious is a free online bookmarking service that lets users save website addresses publicly and privately online so they can be accessed from any device connected to the internet and shared with friends.

Digg – Digg is a social news website that allows members to submit and vote for articles. Articles with the most votes appear on the homepage of the site and subsequently are seen by the largest portion of the site’s membership, as well as other visitors.

Disqus – Disqus is a comment system and moderation tool for your site. This service lets you add next-gen community management and social web integration to any site on any platform.

E

Ebook – An ebook is an electronic version of a printed book. However, most ebooks are not actually available in print (unless you print them). These are typically published in PDF form.

Eventbrite – Eventbrite is a provider of online event management and ticketing services. Eventbrite is free if your event is free. If you sell tickets to your event, Eventbrite collects a fee per ticket.

F

Facebook – Facebook is a social utility that connects people with friends and others who work, study, and live around them. Facebook is the largest social network in the world with more than 800 million users.

Firefox – Firefox is an open-source web browser. It has emerged as one of the most popular web browsers on the internet and allows users to customize their browser through the use of third-party extensions.

Flash Mob – A flash mob is a large group of people who assemble suddenly in a public place, perform an unusual and pointless act for a brief time, then quickly disperse. The term flash mob is generally applied only to gatherings organized via telecommunications, social media, or viral emails.

Flickr – Flickr is a social network based around online picture sharing. The service allows users to store photos online and then share them with others through profiles, groups, sets, and other methods.

Forums – Also known as a message board, a forum is an online discussion site. It originated as the modern equivalent of a traditional bulletin board, and a technological evolution of the dialup bulletin board system.

Follow Friday (#ff) – Follow friday is a trend via the hashtag #ff every Friday on Twitter. Users select other usernames and tweet them with #ff in their post, meaning they recommend following those Twitter users. People tweet at their favorite brands, colleagues, celebrities–you name it!

Foursquare – Foursquare is a social network in which friends share their locations and connect with others in close physical proximity to each other. The service uses a system of digital badges to reward players who “check in” to different types of locations.

Friends – No, not your pals you play poker with on the weekends. We’re talking Facebook friends. These are individuals you consider to be friendly enough with you to see your Facebook profile and engage with you.

G

Google Chrome – Google Chrome is a free web browser produced by Google that fully integrates into its online search system as well as other applications.

Google Documents – Google Documents is a group of web-based office applications that includes tools for word processing, presentations, and spreadsheet analysis. All documents are stored and edited online and allow multiple people to collaborate on a document in real-time.

Google+ – Google+ is Google’s new social network. It differs in that it promotes social sharing that is more similar to how people share in real life by providing features such as one that limits who you are talking to, creating 1-on-1 conversation.

Google Reader – Google Reader is an RSS reader that allows you to aggregate various blogs and sites and collect updates to new content in one location. You can log on whenever you choose, and the latest content from multiple blogs will be in one stream so you don’t have to navigate to each site individually.

Gowalla – Gowalla is a social network in which friends share their locations and connect with others in close psychical proximity to each other.

Groundswell – A social trend in which people use technologies to get the things they need from each other, rather than from traditional institutions like corporations. (Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff, Groundswell, pg. 9)

H

Hangout - A Hangout is a video service on Google+ that allows you to video chat with up to 10 Google+ users are a time. You can name these chats, watch YouTube videos during them, open a Google Doc with colleagues, and much more.

Hashtag – A hashtag is a tag used on the social network Twitter as a way to annotate a message. A hashtag is a word or phrase preceded by a “#.” Example: #yourhashtag. Hashtags are commonly used to show that a tweet, a Twitter message, is related to an event or conference, online or offline.

hi5 – hi5 is a social network focused on the youth market. It is a social entertainment destination, with a focus on delivering a fun and entertainment-driven social experience online to users around the world.

HootSuite – HootSuite is a web-based Twitter client. With HootSuite, you can manage multiple Twitter profiles, pre-schedule tweets, and view metrics.

HTML – HyperText Markup Language (HTML) is a programing language for web pages. Think of HTML as the brick-and-mortar of pages on the web. It provides content and structure while CSS supplies style. HTML has changed over the years, and it is on the cusp of its next version: HTML5.

I

Inbound Marketing – Inbound marketing is a style of marketing that essentially focuses permission-based marketing techniques that businesses can use to get found by potential customers, convert those prospects into leads and customers, and analyze the process along the way. Inbound marketing leverages tactics such as SEO, blogging, social media, lead generation, email marketing, lead nurturing, and analytics. It is in direct contrast to outbound marketing, which utilizes traditional interruptive marketing tactics such as direct mail, trade shows, print and TV advertising, and cold calling.

Instagram – Instagram is a photo sharing application that lets users take photos, apply filters to their images, and share the photos instantly on the Instagram network and other social networks like Facebook, Flickr, Twitter, and Foursquare. The app is targeted toward mobile social sharing, and in just over one year, it has gained almost 15 million users. Currently, it is only available for iPhone devices.

Instant Messaging – Instant messaging (IM) is a form of real-time, direct text-based communication between two or more people. More advanced instant messaging software clients also allow enhanced modes of communication, such as live voice or video calling.

J

Joomla – Joomla is a content management system (CMS) that enables users to build websites and online applications.

K

Klout – Klout is a measure of social influence. The service allows users to connect various social accounts such as Facebook, Flickr, YouTube, etc., and then provides every user with his or her Klout score. The score is out of 100–the higher the score, the more inlfuence you have on the social world.

L

Lifecasting – Lifecasting is a continual broadcast of events in a person’s life through digital media. Typically, lifecasting is transmitted through the internet and can involve wearable technology.

Like – A “Like” is an action that can be made by a Facebook user. Instead of writing a comment for a message or a status update, a Facebook user can click the “Like” button as a quick way to show approval and share the message.

Link Building – Link building is an aspect of search engine optimization in which website owners develop strategies to generate links to their site from other websites with the hopes of improving their search engine ranking. Blogging has emerged as a popular method of link building.

LinkedIn – LinkedIn is a business-oriented social networking site. Founded in December 2002 and launched in May 2003, it is mainly used for professional networking. As of June 2010, LinkedIn had more than 70 million registered users, spanning more than 200 countries and territories worldwide.

LinkedIn Today – LinkedIn Today is LinkedIn’s own version of a social news service. Every industry on LinkedIn (marketing, journalism, technology, etc.) has its own LinkedIn Today. Stories are selected based off which ones are posted and shared the most by users of LinkedIn.

Lurker – A lurker online is a person who reads discussions on a message board, newsgroup, social network, or other interactive system, but rarely or never participates in the discussion.

M

Mashup – A content mashup contains multiple types of media drawn from pre-existing sources to create a new work. Digital mashups allow individuals or businesses to create new pieces of content by combining multiple online content sources.

Meme – A meme on the internet is used to describe a thought, idea, joke, or concept to be shared online. It is typically an image with text above and below it, but can also come in video and link form. A popular example is the “I Can Has Cheezburger?” cat meme that turned into an entire site of memes.

MySpace – MySpace is a social networking website owned by News Corporation. MySpace became the most popular social networking site in the United States in June 2006 and was overtaken internationally by its main competitor, Facebook, in April 2008.

MyPunchbowl – MyPunchbowl.com is a social network that facilitates party planning and provides members with ideas, invitations, favors, gift registries, photo/video sharing, and more.

N

News Feed – A news feed is literally a feed full of news. On Facebook, the News Feed is the homepage of users’ accounts where they can see all the latest updates from their friends. The news feed on Twitter is called Timeline (not to get confused with Facebook’s new look, also called Timeline).

O

Opera – Opera is an open-source web browser. While not as popular as Firefox, Opera is used as the default browser on some gaming systems and mobile devices.

Orkut – Orkut is a social networking website that is owned and operated by Google. The website is named after its creator, Google employee Orkut Büyükkökten. Although Orkut is less popular in the United States than competitors Facebook and MySpace, it is one of the most visited websites in India and Brazil.

P

Pandora - Pandora is a social online radio station that allows users to create stations based on their favorite artists and types of music.

Permalink – A permalink is an address or URL of a particular post within a blog or website.

Podcast – A podcast, or non-streamed webcast, is a series of digital media files, either audio or video, that are released episodically and often downloaded through an RSS feed.

Posterous – Posterous is a blogging and content syndication platform that allows users to post content from any computer or mobile device by sending an e-mail.

PostRank - PostRank monitors and collects social engagement related to content around the web. Essentially it helps publishers understand which type of content promotes sharing on the social web.

Q

Qik – Qik is an online video streaming service that lets users stream video live from their mobile phones to the web.

Quantcast – Quantcast provides website traffic and demographics for websites. The tool is primarily used by online advertisers looking to target specific demographics.

R

Real-Time Search – Real-time search is the method of indexing content being published online into search engine results with virtually no delay.

Reddit – Reddit is similar to Digg. It is a social news site that is built upon a community of users who share and comment on stories.

Retweet – A retweet is when someone on Twitter sees your message and decides to re-share it with his/her followers. A retweet button allows them to quickly resend the message with attribution to the original sharer’s name.

RSS Feed – RSS (Really Simple Syndication) is a family of  web feed formats used to publish frequently updated content such as blogs and videos in a standardized format. Content publishers can syndicate a feed, which allows users to subscribe to the content and read it when they please, and from a location other than the website (such as reader services like Google Reader).

RSS Reader – An RSS reader allows users to aggregate articles from multiple websites into one place using RSS feeds. The purpose of these aggregators is to allow for a faster and more efficient consumption of information. An example of an RSS Reader is Google Reader.

S

Scribd - Scribd turns document formats such as PDF, Word, and PowerPoint into a web document for viewing and sharing online.

Search Engine Optimization – Search engine optimization is the process of improving the volume or quality of traffic to a website from search engines via unpaid or organic search traffic.

Second Life – Second Life is an online virtual world developed by Linden Lab that was launched on June 23, 2003. Users are called “residents,” and they interact with each other through avatars. Residents can explore, meet other residents, socialize, participate in individual and group activities, create and trade virtual property and services with one another, and travel throughout the world.

Seesmic – Seesmic is a popular desktop and mobile social application. Using APIs, Seesmic allows users to share content on social networks such as Twitter and Google Buzz from the same application.

Sentiment – Sentiment is normally referred to as the attitude of user comments related to a brand online. Some social media monitoring tools measure sentiment.

SlideShare – SlideShare is an online social network for sharing presentations and documents. Users can favorite and embed presentations as well as share them on other social networks such as Twitter and Facebook.

Skype – Skype is a free program that allows for text, audio, and video chats between users. Additionally, users can purchase plans to receive phone calls through their Skype account.

Social Media – Social media is media designed to be disseminated through social interaction, created using highly accessible and scalable publishing techniques.

Social Media Monitoring – Social media monitoring is a process of monitoring and responding to mentions related to a business that occur in social media.

StumbleUpon – StumbleUpon is a free web-browser extension that acts as an intelligent browsing tool for discovering and sharing web sites.

T

Tag Cloud – A tag cloud is a visual depiction of user-generated tags, or simply the word content of a site, typically used to describe the content of web sites.

Technorati – Technorati is a popular blog search engine that also provides categories and authority rankings for blogs.

Timeline – Timeline is the new Facebook format for personal profiles. It is essentially a digital scrapbook of a user’s life, displaying their profile in an actual timeline format so they can see at exactly what point in time something a story occurred.

Trend – A trend is seen on every social network. Facebook shows what is trending when multiple users are sharing the same link or discussing the same topic. Google+ highlights trending topic when a user conducts a search. Twitter has a section to the bottom right of its home feed which clearly shows what topics and hashtags are trending in tweets. And LinkedIn shows what industries (in LinkedIn Today) that a certain story is popular.

Tumblr – Tumblr lets users share content in the form of a blog. Users can post text, photos, quotes, links, music, and videos from your browser, phone, desktop, or email.

TweetDeck – TweetDeck is an application that connects users with contacts across Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, and more.

Tweetup – A tweetup is an organized or impromptu gathering of people that use Twitter.

Twitter – Twitter is a platform that allows users to share 140-character-long messages publicly. User can “follow” each other as a way of subscribing to each others’ messages. Additionally, users can use the @username command to direct a message toward another Twitter user.

Twitter Chat – A Twitter Chat is a chat or discussion that is held on Twitter and is open to all users. Questions are prompted from the user hosting the chat, while anyone else can respond using a particular hashtag. The hashtag is the marker for someone participating in the chat. HubSpot has its own chats hosted every other Tuesday via the hashtag #inboundchat.

Twitter Search – Twitter Search is a search engine operated by Twitter to search for Twitter messages and users in real time.

TypePad – TypePad is a free and paid blogging platform similar to Blogger. It allows users to host and publish their own blogs.

U

Unconference – An unconference is a facilitated, participant-driven conference centered on a theme or purpose. The term “unconference” has been applied, or self-applied, to a wide range of gatherings that try to avoid one or more aspects of a conventional conference, such as high fees and sponsored presentations.

USTREAM – USTREAM is a live interactive broadcast platform that enables anyone with an internet connection and a camera to engage and stream video online.

URL – A URL is most popularly known as the “address” of a web page on the web (e.g. http://www.example.com)

V

Video Blog – A video blog is a blog the produces regular video content often around the same theme on a daily or weekly basis. An example of a successful video blog is Wine Library TV.

Viddler – Viddler is a popular video sharing site similar to YouTube and Vimeo in which users can upload videos to be hosted online and shared and watched by others.

Vimeo – Vimeo is a popular video sharing service in which users can upload videos to be hosted online and shared and watched by others. Vimeo user videos are often more artistic, and the service does not allow commercial video content.

Viral Marketing – Viral marketing refers to marketing techniques that use pre-existing social networks to produce increases in brand awareness or to achieve other marketing objectives through self-replicating viral processes.

W

Web Analytics – Web analytics is the measurement, collection, analysis, and reporting of internet data for purposes of understanding and optimizing web usage.

Webinar – A webinar is used to conduct live meetings, training, or presentations via the internet.

Widget – A widget is an element of a graphical user interface that displays an information arrangement changeable by the user, such as a window or text box.

Wiki – A wiki is a website that allows the easy creation and editing of any number of interlinked web pages via a web browser, allowing for collaboration between users.

Wikipedia – Wikipedia is a free, web-based, collaborative, multilingual encyclopedia project supported by the non-profit Wikimedia Foundation. Its millions of articles have been written collaboratively by volunteers around the world, and almost all of its articles can be edited by anyone with access to the site.

WordPress – WordPress is a content management system and contains blog publishing tools that allow users to host and publish blogs.

Y

Yammer – Yammer is a business communication tool that operates as an internal Twitter-like messaging system for employees within an organization. It is used to provide real-time communication and reduce the need for e-mail.

Yelp – Yelp is a social network and local search website that provides users with a platform to review, rate, and discuss local businesses.

YouTube – YouTube is a video-sharing website on which users can upload, share, and view videos. Three former PayPal employees created YouTube in February 2005. In November 2006, YouTube, LLC was bought by Google Inc. for $1.65 billion, and is now operated as a subsidiary of Google. YouTube is the largest video sharing site in the world.

Zoho – Zoho is a suite of online web applications geared toward business productivity and collaboration.

Zooomr – Zooomr is a online photo sharing service similar to Flickr.

What terms did I forget? What would you like to see added to this list?

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The Best and Worst Brand Makeovers of 2011

Friday, December 30th, 2011

best and worst 2011 brand makeovers2012 is almost here, and unless those Mayans are right, it’s time to evaluate what changes you’re going to be making to your brand to make sure you hold strong through the next twelve months. You don’t need to drastically change what you’re doing to reach prospects every year; you just need to show them that you are paying attention to the world around them as it changes. A new year means a fresh start and a world of possibilities for your brand, so get excited!

But as you mull over the changes you’ll make to revamp your own brand, it’s important to look at the successes and failures of other companies’ rebranding efforts. Doing so will help you identify opportunities and serve as cautionary tales for your own brand. So here’s a look back into 2011 to see which brands did a great job making over their image, and those who did not (and possibly won’t live to see the end of 2012 because of it).

The Best Brand Makeovers of 2011

1.) Starbucks: A few years back you may remember Starbucks actually lost sight of what was important to their brand: the customer experience. They spent all their time on expansion and not enough time on the in-store experience that originally brought them fame. Since then, they brought the focus back to their stores and their coffee-loving community. This year, they showed the world what having a well known, customer-focused brand can actually mean. They also named dropped in a whole different way, launching a new logo that was so well known, it no longer needed to include the company’s name.

starbucks

Marketing Takeaway: Building a community of devoted fans is crucial to propelling a brand forward. They become advocates and influencers for your brand. Be it through customer service, experiences, or social media, maintaining a rich dialogue with your customers never goes out of style.

keds2.) Keds: 20 years ago, Keds was your mother’s brand. In fact, my own mother called me an old lady when she saw me browsing the Keds website a few years back. What she doesn’t know is that the Keds today is no longer the Keds she knew. They have modernized their brand by offering new designs, partnering with well-known designers, and placing their new shoes in hip retail locations. With these changes, they’ve also kept a little of the old. The blue Keds logo remains on every heel, and they have stayed true to the affordable price point for which they were known. 

Marketing Takeaway: If you are an older brand trying to modernize, allowing for a “re-discovery” of your brand might be what you need. I don’t know the Keds brand my mother experienced growing up, but I was able to have a whole new experience with the 2011 brand. Make sure your new image can still be mutigenerational; what’s new to me may also bring back memories for my parents’ generation. 

TBS logo3.) TBS: TBS won the Holy Grail of TV publicity when they acquired Conan O’Brien as its late night talk show host. TBS then needed to rebrand to appeal to their new customer base, which now skews much younger and slightly male. What their company came up with was a modernized play on their old smiley face logo. It is mechanical, movable, and modern, yet still totally TBS.

Marketing Takeaway: TBS did not stray far from their original appeal. They were already known for comedy, but they just needed a modern take for their new audience. The company went as far as bringing the brand in line with the standards of the day, but they didn’t go too far and alienate their original customer base.

The Worst Brand Makeovers of 2011

netflix4.) Netflix: Poor Netflix can’t quite catch a break, can they? This year Netflix forgot about their intensely loyal fan base when they drastically raised prices, split their company, made a new brand in Qwikster, quickly gave up that brand, and then sort of apologized. Confused? Yeah, me too. Maybe they wouldn’t have lost so many customers if we weren’t all scratching our heads asking, “What just happened?” 

Marketing Takeaway: Quick changes without an open and honest communication with your customers can be devastating to your brand. Confusion often feels like betrayal, and with a huge audience of early adopters, Netflix will be hard pressed to get all of those lost customers back who have likely embarked on a search for another online video provider. Be honest about the needs you have as a company with customers. Blogging is a great tool to keep your customers in the loop with the changes at your company and serves as an open line of communication.

borders5.) Borders: Some may say that all bookstores are doomed, but Borders lost and it had nothing to do with the iPad, the Kindle, the Fire, or the Roaster. Okay I made that last one up, but it doesn’t matter, because nothing killed Borders but itself. It failed to connect with the things that customers valued. It watched as other companies modernized their brands, made deals with online retailers, and became big players in social media. They were constantly playing catch up, and in the end, that closed their doors. 

Marketing Takeaway: Be innovative in 2012. Connect with what your customers want, and soon you will be able to anticipate their needs even before they do. Even if something is working well now, it doesn’t mean it can’t be even greater. I am not still carrying around my original iPod, (and that’s not only because someone stole it) because they made the next one even more awesome.

Next year, keep an eye on what’s important to your customers, make changes to modernize without alienating, and most importantly, try something new. Here’s to an awesome 2012 for you and your brand!

What are some ways you plan to refresh your brand for the New Year?

Image credit: pheaber, Headstand Media, Chictopia, FastCompany, Huffington Post, Geek.com

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10 Reasons You’re Not Hitting Your Leads Goal This Month

Friday, December 30th, 2011

soccer goalAs a marketer, you’re all too familiar with the infamous lead gen goal. And if you’re anything like us, you obsess over this number. It haunts your day-to-day work, and it keeps you up at night as visions of lead-capture forms dance in your head (it’s still the holidays, right?). And even if you hit your goal this month, the glory won’t last very long. As soon as the month ends, a new one begins, and you’ll need to hit your goal yet again. Oh, the horror!

But hey, that’s just the life of an inbound marketer. And to be perfectly honest, the competitive drive that the looming leads goal creates within you is what makes your job so exciting, right? But if you struggle to hit your goals month to month, you might have some problems with your lead gen strategy. So if you’re regularly worrying about leads, check first that you’re not experiencing the ill-effects of these 10 lead gen goal blockers before you consider a new profession.

10 Reasons You’re Failing to Achieve Your Lead Gen Goals

1. You’re not driving enough traffic to your content from organic and paid search.

So where do leads come from? Surely, you’re not getting a delivery from the lead fairy every month. In order to generate leads, you first need a solid chunk of traffic that you can convert. One of the best channels for generating this traffic is search engines, and the best ways to do that is to regularly create content that is optimized with the keywords for which you want to get found. Whether you have a stagnant blog or no blog, you’ll need to ramp up your content creation efforts if you want to boost organic search traffic and have a bigger pool of website visitors from which you can source leads.

Furthermore, consider paid search (PPC) as a complement to your organic search strategy. It is a great way to drive leads around keywords that are too competitive to target in your organic strategy.

2. You’re not plastering CTAs everywhere possible.

Calls-to-action (CTAs) are the gateways to lead generation. They’re what direct traffic from other pages of your website (like your homepage, ‘About Us’ page, and your blog) and other channels (like email messages and PPC ads) to the landing pages that can capture leads. So if you haven’t used every piece of website real estate possible to add a CTA for your top offers, you’re definitely going to hurt your chances of hitting your lead gen goal. So go ahead and put CTAs everywhereon every blog post; on your blog’s main sidebar; on your homepage; on product pages; in email messages — you name it! Just skip putting them on landing pages to avoid distraction.

3. You’re not effectively leveraging the potential of social media for lead generation.

Sure — social media can be great for engaging and connecting with fans, prospects, and even current customers, but its real marketing value is in its lead gen potential. Just like you should be including CTAs throughout your website, you should also be leveraging your social media accounts to support lead generation. Optimize your social presence for lead generation by regularly sharing links to landing pages with lead-capture forms and using appropriate social media real estate to include calls-to-action.

lead gen post on fb

4. You’re recycling the same offers over and over.

If you’re burning through and promoting the same offers over and over, eventually, you’ll notice a dip in leads. And if you’re leveraging every channel at your disposal (and you should) to generate leads, then it’s important to have enough offers so you’re not hitting the same prospects with the same ones time and time again. Update old offers so they’re fresher, create new ones on different topics, offer variety (e.g. webinars, ebooks, downloads, etc.) and try to strike the right balance for when and where to promote what.

5. You’re not generating enough high quality leads. 

Sheer quantity of leads might not be the only condition of your lead generation agreement with your sales team. If you’re generating tons and tons of leads but none of them are qualified, chances are good that you’ll have an unsatisfied sales team on your hands. Implement lead nurturing campaigns that leverage the power of relevant content and marketing automation tools to nurture leads into a position where they’re better qualified and readier to buy to keep your sales team happy and convert more leads into better customers.

6. You’re not appropriately aligning your offers with the sales process.

free trial ctaSo per our second point, maybe you’ve already started slapping CTAs on all your web pages. Fantastic! But there’s actually some strategy involved. If you’re just putting any old CTA on any old page, then you need to be more careful. Use some logic here. If a visitor is hanging out on your products pages, that means they’re likely further along in the sales cycle. Shouldn’t the CTA on that page point to a more middle-of-the-funnel offer such as a free product trial, demo, or consultation? Try to align the offers you feature to visitors at their likely point in the sales process.

7. You’re carelessly planning your email sends.

Or maybe you’re not planning them at all. Eek! Email marketing is an art. You don’t want to spam your email list with countless emails, yet you want to make sure you’re hitting them enough times (and at the right times) with relevant content that generates new leads and nurtures existing leads. In addition, you need to make sure you balance your email sends to incorporate enough offers that you know are your top offers with ones that might not be as high-performing. Create an email calendar and use testing and analytics to determine when to send, what to send, and how often to send.

8. You aren’t A/B testing your landing pages.

“Set it and forget it” is never a good tactic when it comes to inbound marketing. The most effective marketers test everything to improve performance, and landing pages should be no exception. You’ll be surprised to find that even just the teensiest change can make all the difference in conversion, and there is really no shortage to what you can test on your landing pages. Test your form length, page layout, messaging, headline, ‘submit’ button, text, and even color scheme. While you’re at it, test your CTAs, too!

9. Your landing page forms are too long — or not long enough.

Speaking of form length, there is quite a correlation between form length and lead quantity/quality. While shorter forms are more likely to generate a higher quantity of leads, longer, more detailed forms will likely generate fewer, but higher quality leads. Only your own company’s specific leads goals and problems can dictate which form strategy is better for your business, but as a best practice, only ask for the information you really need to contact and appropriately qualify the lead. More form fields lead to more friction and greater landing page anxiety, but fewer form fields garner tons more unqualified leads.

10. You’re not leveraging valuable insights from your marketing analytics.

Neglecting to consult your marketing analytics throughout the planning and execution of your lead generation strategy can be detrimental in many ways. You won’t know which are your best and worst channels for lead generation (and thus, which to focus more time and effort on), which channels generate the most high quality leads, how your landing page conversion rates are faring, which offers perform best, etc. Without these key insights, it’d be impossible to diagnose deficiencies in your lead gen strategy, and thus, make improvements. Measuring success should be an omnipresent part of every marketing tactic you utilize, and lead generation should be no different.

email leads resized 600

What other blockers could contribute to an inability to hit your marketing leads goals?

Image Credit: Ingo Bernhardt

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How Timeline Radically Changes Your Facebook Marketing Strategy

Friday, December 30th, 2011

facebook cake  resized 600In the early days of social media, the fact that the shelf life of Facebook posts were much longer than tweets was often discussed. But as the years have passed, Facebook has changed immensely.

Homepage feeds now have a Twitteresque feel with live updates from friends, otherwise known as the Ticker. The most recent posts that appear on a Facebook feed are now a direct result of the latest content being published. And of course, this all led us to where we are now with the somewhat controversial new change, Facebook Timeline.

Now that the complete rollout of Timeline to all Facebook users is nearly complete, the change means one crucial thing for Facebook marketers: The life of a status update is diminishing. Fast.

That means it’s time marketers recognize that since Timeline is altering the shelf-life of Facebook content, we must now change the way we use Facebook.

Enhanced User News Feed Calls for Strategic Posting

Formerly, users’ homepage News Feeds offered two options for viewing: ‘Top Stories,’ meaning posts with the most likes and comments from your friends, or ‘Most Recent,’ which was simply the most recent updates regardless of response rates. The majority of users (many without even knowing) had theirs set to ‘Top Stories’ so they could see which stories were most popular and getting discussed by their friends.

Then describe the imageFacebook aggregated these two features into one through its EdgeRank algorithm. In short, this algorithm decides what is most important on Facebook for a specific user by taking into account which pages/profiles that user frequents, the popularity of it, and most importantly, how recent the post is.

According to URL shortening service bitly, the mean half life (the time it takes a link to receive half the clicks it will ever receive after it’s reached its peak) of a link on Facebook is 3.2 hours. There’s a good chance this number will go down with the Timeline rollout, too.

Marketing Takeaway: Test the waters by posting your content at a different time every day for one week to identify at what hour your post performed the best. Check your Facebook Insights to analyze when you had the most success, and post at those times. According to AddThis, a bookmarking and sharing service, most users click on content two minutes after content is shared. If users are clicking that rapidly and you only have about a 3-hour time frame to garner attention, you have to ensure you’re posting exactly when your audience is on Facebook. Otherwise, they’ll likely never see your content.

Throw Out the “Post Once a Day” Rule

The old rule of thumb for Facebook was to post regularly, but not more than once a day so that each update received proper attention while simultaneously not being spammy. Well folks, today we’re here to say that this rule should no longer apply. Posting once a day in conjunction with the Ticker and EdgeRank algorithm means that your post only has a short span of time during which people will likely see it. Once those three hours are up–your status is old news (pun intended). And if you think you’re going to be spamming users by posting more than once, think again! Your post will be quickly overridden by the hordes of other updates becoming the top stories in a user’s News Feed.

However, don’t let this lower the quality of your updates. When a user sees yPost more than once on Facebook resized 600ou in their News Feed or Ticker and navigates to your page, they’re likely to see all of your other content. On the HubSpot Facebook page, I tested the waters by posting every hour. That’s right, every hour. Each hour, a completely different group of users liked, commented on, and shared the content. Furthermore, because each post appeared in a users’ Feeds at different times, I was able to attract a more diverse set of users because each group logged onto Facebook at a different time. Not only did we not experience a decrease in fans, but our strategy also brought fans to the latest update and got them liking even more content that was also on the wall — content they may have never seen otherwise (see image at right)! While we don’t necessarily recommend posting every hour unless you have a large fanbase on Facebook and are creating high volumes of content, the point is, once a day isn’t going to cut it anymore.

Furthermore, the high number of posts per day was not taken as spammy. Instead of backlash, we received positive feedback in regard to all the valuable information we were posting. This means that people truly do hold access to valuable content in high regard. Whether it’s keeping them in suspense for the next episode in a television series, sharing the latest remedy your researchers have discovered for the flu, or simply educating marketers on how to be inbound rock stars, content is key. And if it’s written and presented in a way that is appealing to your specific demographic, you will see positive results.Picture 1

Marketing Takeaway: You need quality content, and you need time. If the new Facebook is calling for more updates a day, you need valuable content that is worth posting. Simply updating for the sake of infiltrating feeds won’t cut it–that’s when users will mark you as spam. But if you’re strategically posting remarkable content, then they’ll like, comment, share, and love you for it. You also need to allocate more time to posting and monitoring the content than before to make this happen effectively. Consider investing in some social media marketing automation to make the most of your time.

Recent Activity Is More Apparent and More Important Than Ever

So what’s the takeaway from all this? Well, Timeline isn’t only providing more work for marketers. Previously, when a user ‘liked’ a business page on FacPicture 7ebook, it would appear on his/her profile–but in what appeared to be size-8 font buried under other, larger posts. With the rollout of Timeline, recent activity like that isn’t glanced over so easily. Timeline’s layout is literally a timeline where every post is displayed in its own box representing the point in time at which it happened. This means that while, unfortunately, all of your actual content is quickly disappearing from Facebook feeds, the fact that someone ‘likes’ your business page is much more stable and visible. This is because recent activity now has its own box that stands out on the page, rather than playing hide-and-go-seek with wall posts.

Furthermore, the moment someone clicks ‘like,’ it will appear in their friends’ Tickers instantly. In fact, Facebook slipped in a new data point to their analytics that is literally called ‘Timeline,’ which indicates the number of fans who ‘liked’ your page by seeing it in someone’s Timeline! describe the image

So quantity (and quality, as always) does matter. The argument that 7,000 die-hard fans is better than 14,000 regular fans is not sound. If you have twice the fanship, you have double the reach and two times the opportunity to get your message sent and your brand heard. When you successfully gain a new like on Facebook, it’s far clearer to friends of those fans. This will truly help you grow your Facebook presence in a much faster way than ever before on Facebook. But to do so, you’ll have to follow the aforementioned tips to gain those initial ‘likes’ that will hopefully catapult your Facebook marketing.

Do you see any other ways Timeline is changing Facebook marketing? What do you think of the idea of posting more than once a day on Facebook?

Image Credit: Aloha Sweets; Captivation Media

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The Only Metrics You Need to Optimize Website Performance

Friday, December 30th, 2011

traffic sourcesYour website is the hub of your inbound marketing efforts. Every piece of content you create or campaign you run should be designed to drive traffic to your website and landing pages, giving you the chance to convert visitors into leads and customers. It makes sense, then, to start by looking at insights from your web analytics platform, such as Google’s free Google Analytics, or a paid platform like HubSpot. Let’s review the 8 essential metrics you should be tracking on your website and its landing pages, and how you can use these metrics to optimize and improve your website’s performance.

1. Unique Visitors

Definition: The total number of individual visitors to your site during a specific period of time, not counting repeat visits by the same individual

How to Use It: Unique visitor data shows whether your content and campaigns are successfully driving visitors to your site. Look for a good upward trend over time, or in conjunction with specific marketing campaigns. If your unique visitor count isn’t rising, you may need to reassess your marketing tactics.

2. New vs. Repeat Visitors

Definition: A comparison of your unique visitors vs. the number of visitors who came back more than once

How to Use It: The more repeat visitors you have to your site, the more “sticky” it is (i.e. prospects are finding valuable content that keeps them coming back for more). If your repeat visitor rate is only in the single digits, your site might not offer enough valuable information to capitalize on the link or campaign that attracted a new visitor in the first place. Conversely, if your repeat visitor rate is higher than 30%, you’re probably not growing your audience enough to generate new business. A healthy rate of repeat visitors is about 15%.

3. Traffic Sources

Definition: A breakdown of the specific sources of traffic to your website, such as direct, organic, or referral

How to Use It: Direct traffic comes from people who have typed your website’s URL directly into their browser, visited your web pages via a bookmark, or clicked on an untagged link from an email or document you produced.

Organic traffic comes from a link found on a search engine results page. Referral traffic comes from a link on another website. Checking your traffic sources tells you how well your search engine optimization (SE0) efforts are performing. For example, you’ll want to see your share of organic traffic rising until it reaches 40%-50% of total traffic. Likewise, you can gauge the effectiveness of your link-building efforts by tracking referral traffic. Aim for referrals to deliver 20%-30% of overall traffic.

4. Referring URLs

Definition: The specific, non-search engine URLs that send traffic directly to your site. They represent the inbound links that are crucial for boosting your site’s search engine rankings

How to Use It: Track changes in your referring URL list monthly to see if your SEO link-building efforts are paying off. You want to see the list of referring URLs growing steadily over time as you produce more content that other site owners and bloggers deem worthy of sharing with their audience. You also can study your referring URLs to determine which types of sites or bloggers are linking to your site and what type of content they tend to like. All of this information can be fed back into your SEO strategy, helping you to produce more content that is likely to generate inbound links.

5. Most/Least Popular Pages

Definition: A comparison of the pages on your site that receive the most and least traffic

How to Use It: Studying your most popular pages helps you understand what kind of content visitors and prospects find most interesting. Popular pages also are good places to focus your database building efforts. For instance, you can add an email opt-in box or offer a registration form for a content download on those pages.

6. Indexed Pages

indexed pagesDefinition: The number of pages on your site that have received at least one visit from organic search

How to Use It: This metric tells you how many of your pages are being indexed by search engines and are getting found by users. Know this, and then you can drill down to see which landing pages receive the highest percentage of visits.

Popular entry points into your website are great places to optimize for lead generation by adding calls-to-action for content offers (e.g. ebooks, webinars, or other downloads). You should also track the number of unique landing pages your website has monthly in order to discover pages that perform poorly in organic search that may only generate a few monthly visitors but may turn out to be highly converting pages. Once you have identified these pages, you can take measure to optimize them for maximum conversions.

If you’re not satisfied with your site’s unique landing page count or if the list stops growing,
consider ramping up your blogging efforts. Business blogging is one of the best ways to create new pages that can be indexed by search engines. Furthermore, having more indexed blog pages means more opportunities to get found via organic search, making it more likely that you’ll generate new leads and customers through your content creation.

7. Landing Page Conversion Rate

Definition: The percentage of visitors to your site who take a desired action, such as purchasing a product or filling out a lead generation form

How to Use It: By monitoring your conversion rates, you’ll know how well you’ve been capitalizing on the traffic coming to your site. You can monitor several different types of conversion rates, including:

  • Visitor-to-Lead Conversion Rate: the percentage of visitors who become leads
  • Lead-to-Customer Conversion Rate: the percentage of leads who become customers
  • Visitor-to-Customer Conversion Rate: the percentage of visitors who become customers

Tracking each of these conversion rates is like giving your marketing funnel a checkup. You’ll see where you’re doing well — such as converting visitors into leads — and where your funnel may be leaky, such as failing to convert those leads into customers.

8. Bounce Rate

Definition: The percentage of new visitors who leave your site almost immediately after arriving, with no other interactions

How to Use It: A high bounce rate means your pages aren’t compelling or useful to visitors. This could be a reflection of problems with your marketing strategy, such as having inbound links from irrelevant sources or not optimizing landing pages for specific campaigns. A high bounce rate could also indicate problems with your site itself, such as confusing architecture, weak content, or no clear calls-to-action.

What other metrics do you find critical for measuring and optimizing the performance of your website?

This post is an excerpt from the An Introduction to Inbound Marketing Analytics, a free ebook that covers the essential metrics marketers needs to measure and improve their marketing. Download the complete ebook here.

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A to Z Internet Marketing News: Happy Birthday TopRankBlog!, 2012 Marketing Predictions, Social Disasters, Cashing in on XMAS

Friday, December 30th, 2011

21 Social Media Marketing Trends for 2012

Curious to find out what 2012 could have in store for online marketers?  This presentation from DreamGrow shares 21 predictions on what 2012 could look like.

Highlights include:

  • Social CRM making inroads
  • Social media influencing more sales
  • Social commerce on mobile devices

Facebook IPO and Most Popular Social Sites:

“Nielsen: Top Web Destinations, Social Networks and Video Sites in 2011”  As 2011 comes to an end, Nielsen released a review of the top online destinations, social media sites, and smartphone devices.  It is no surprise that Google was the most visited U.S. Web Brand and Facebook was still the leader among social networks and blogs.  Via Nielsen.

“Facebook $100 Billion IPO in 2012: What the Future Holds for the Social Media Powerhouse” 2012 is positioned to be one of the most important years in Facebook’s short history.  While going public and planning a $100 billion IPO for 2012 are on the horizon, additional surprises are in store for Facebook users in the coming year.  Via Mashable.

Social Media: Disasters

“Ocean Marketing vs. Penny Arcade: Paul Christoforo PR Disaster Goes Viral” Documented via email and enacted on numerous YouTube videos, this might be one of the most reprehensible exchanges in the history of customer service. A PR/Marketing contractor representing N-Control, a maker of modified game controllers for hardcore gamers and disabled people has been accused of insulting a customer, plagiarism, extorting a past client and shady SEO practices. Could it get any worse? Yeah. Domestic abuse.  Via International Business Times.

“Social media, rumors might have fed melee at MOA”  On Sunday December 25th it was rumored that rappers Lil Wayne and Drake were going to be making an appearance at Mall of America in Bloomington, MN.  In the afternoon mayhem broke out involving more than 200 young people, one of the most serious disturbances at the mall in over 15 years with 10 people arrested.  Via StarTribune.

“Top 5 Most Common Networking Mistakes”  Good networking is an art and a science.  While some people may not have an innate networking skill this article points out basic mistakes and how to avoid them.  Via Inc.

Network Growth: Exceeding Expectations

“Pinterest: Crazy Growth Lands it as Top 10 Social Site”  Pintrest has grown 4,000% over the past 6 months marking it as the number 10 social media site.  While most traffic comes from California and Texas, Pinterest also receives unusually high traffic from states like Utah, Alabama, and Tennessee.  Via cNet.

“Instagram Becomes the Largest Mobile Social Network” In the past two months Instagram has added over 2 million new users.  While currently only available on iPhone, Instagram is poised to outpace Foursquare, the largest mobile focused social network available today.  Via Social Fresh.

“Google+ may reach 400 million users by end of 2012”  Google+ is on average adding 625,000 new users per day.  While the numbers are reflecting total users not active users, there is no denying that Google+ is growing.  Via LA Times Blog.

Cashing in on Christmas:

“Final Christmas Push Propels U.S. Online Holiday Spending to $35.3 Billion, Up 15 Percent Versus Last Year”  Spending reflected in this report takes into account the first 56 days of the November – December holiday season.  It is said with certainty that Cyber Monday 2011 ranked as the heaviest spending day of the season for the second year in a row.  Via ComScore.

Battles In the Court & On the Screen

“A Dispute Over Who Owns a Twitter Account Goes to Court” How much is a Twitter follower worth?  In a world where social media influence can mean the difference between a new customer and a fruitless cold call, one company thinks it’s worth a lot.  The question remains, can a company claim ownership of an employee’s social media account, and what does that mean for employee’s posting during work hours?  Via NY Times.

“YouTube Slam Begins Video Clip Battles for Users’ Votes”  Each week YouTube will put user submitted videos head-to-head to battle it out on screen.  Users will be asked to submit a vote for their favorite video.  This contest is designed to keep visitors on YouTube for longer periods of time and deepen their connection to the site.  Via BBC.

Online Marketing News You Can Use = TopRank Team Edition

Ken Horst – “Google Will Change Web Marketing in 2012”
Google has designed a new method for websites to structure data so that its crawler can pull better information. These plans revolve around metadata that will allow Google to access more rich data about a topic.  This may be a wakeup call for marketers and web masters to start looking at the new data and plan for the deployment of the new code in order to improve or maintain rankings.  Via Harvard Business Review.

Emily Conley – “The 22 Best Infographics We Found in 2011”
This is a compilation of some of the best infographics released in the past year.  I thought this was a pretty cool trend feature to reflect on the past year and gear up for 2012!  Via Co.Design.

Alexis Hall – “77 of Top 100 Brands Now Have Google+ Pages”
This article from Marketing Land discusses the fast adoption of Google+ by businesses, since its launch on November 7th.  According to BrightEdge’s December SocialShare report, 77 of the top 100 brands now have Google+ pages. This adoption rate will likely continue to increase in 2012 as big and small businesses begin to leverage Google+.  Via Marketing Land.

Ken Horst – “Will Clever Sense Help Google Become The Perfect Search Engine?”
Google is beefing up its voice search capabilities with the recent purchase of Clever Sense.  Similar to Siri for Apple, Google’s new voice search app will remember things it learns about the user so that future search results are even more targeted.  As more people use voice search on their mobile devices, online marketers will need to learn what it takes, other than location, to acquire a high ranking in the SERP.  Via Search Insider.

Happy Birthday TopRank Online Marketing Blog!

We’ve celebrated our 8th year of blogging this week. Thank you to everyone who has subscribed, shared, linked, commented and reached out over the  years. It’s an honor to be a part of such an amazing community and in this world of information overload, we appreciate your attention a great deal.  Thank you!

Have A Safe Holiday Weekend!

From the entire team at TopRank Online Marketing


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© Online Marketing Blog, 2011. |
A to Z Internet Marketing News: Happy Birthday TopRankBlog!, 2012 Marketing Predictions, Social Disasters, Cashing in on XMAS | http://www.toprankblog.com


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Top Online Marketing Books for 2012

Thursday, December 29th, 2011

The New Year will soon be here and we are looking forward to continuing to learn from some of the top marketing minds on the web about the strategies and tactics that will shape  online marketing efforts in 2012 and beyond. To help you get a jump start, I have compiled a list of books coming out in 2012 that cover a range of online marketing topics including:  mobile, social media, content and search engine marketing. Enjoy.

[Note from Lee: We didn't include second editions, re-releases in paperback or books that didn't have cover images uploaded yet.]

Mobile, Local, Location Based Marketing

Mobile Marketing Book

Mobilized Marketing: Drive Sales, Engagement, and Loyalty Through Mobile Marketing (Wiley) by Jeff Hasen

Jeff Hasen, CMO of mobile marketing forerunner Hipcricket, provides timely mobile strategies and tactics leveraging his experience from more than 130,000 past campaigns.  As mobile marketing continues to move to the forefront of the marketing world, the insight Hasen provides into mobile optimization, budgeting, and measurement should prove to be indispensable in 2012.

Location Based Marketing Book

Go Mobile: Location-Based Marketing, Apps, Mobile Optimized Ad Campaigns, 2D Codes and Other Mobile Strategies to Grow Your Business  (Wiley) by Jeanne Hopkins and Jamie Turner

Go Mobile offers a step by step guide for mobile marketing in 2012.  It includes practical campaign instructions in order to develop a mobile website, deploy SMS for business, utilize QR codes, leverage mobile apps and more. One can also benefit from strategic instructions to use location based marketing in order to build your customers base and how to integrate social media into mobile campaigns.

Search & Social Media Marketing

Social Media Analytics Book

Social Media Intelligence: Extracting Knowledge from the Fire Hose of Conversations (Que) by  Sally Falkow

Upcoming in June of 2012, Social Media Intelligence illustrates how to use the leading social media analytics tools in order to gauge the effectiveness of social media marketing and make strategic decisions. Sally Falkow will guide you in moving from reactive brand monitoring to proactive information gathering in order to take advantage of business opportunities. This is a great read for those looking to progress from just doing social media to using it as an effective piece of their marketing strategy.

Google+ for Business - Social Media Marketing Book

Google+ for Business: How Google’s Social Network Changes Everything  (Que) by Chris Brogan

The much buzzed about Google+ seems likely to have a big impact on search in 2012.  Author, Chris Brogan, discusses how businesses should be taking advantage of the newest social network and defines those strategies and tactics to use for business.

Content Marketing

Optimize: How to Attract and Engage More Customer by Integrating SEO, Social Media, Content Marketing

Optimize: How to Attract and Engage More Customer by Integrating SEO, Social Media, and Content Marketing (Wiley) by Lee Odden

TopRank Online Marketing CEO Lee Odden helps companies develop an optimized and socialized content marketing strategy to attain new levels of customer acquisition and engagement in 2012.  Balancing the practical with the innovative, Optimize is ideal for those marketers that want a more effective content marketing strategy that wins and retains more customers, builds thought leadership and dominates the competition. Scheduled for release mid-March 2012.

Content is Currency - Content Marketing Book 2012

Content is Currency: Developing Powder Content for Web and Mobile (Nicholas Brealey Publishing) by Jon Wuebben

Already receiving great reviews, Content is Currency, by Jon Wuebben delivers practical instructions and step by step guides to manage content through four key phases: Creation, Optimization, Distribution and Curation.  This book is a great opportunity for business owners and marketers to understand how to create content which will engage their audience and drive results.

B2B Marketing

B2B Social Media

The B2B Social Media Book: Become a Marketing Superstar by Generating Leads with Blogging, LinkedIN, Twitter, Facebook, Email, and More (Wiley) by Kipp Bodnar and Jeffrey L. Cohen

The B2B Social Media Book is the ultimate reference guide for B2B marketers looking to expand their knowledge of social media strategy and contribute to their business growth.  Readers will discover actionable items for leveraging blogs, LinkedIN, Facebook, Twitter and more to form the cornerstone of their B2B marketing strategies.

B2B Digital Marketing

B2B Digital Marketing: Using the Web to Market Directly to Businesses (Que) by Michael Miler

B2B Digital Marketing looks to be a great resource for B2B marketers interested in learning how to sell directly to other businesses using digital marketing. Leading with a broad summary and then diving into individual channel tactics for strategy, implementation and measurement, B2B Digital Marketing is another good guide for those looking for a B2B marketing overview.

There are many books publishing in 2012 that promise to introduce us to new ways to strategize, develop online marketing plans and deploy campaigns across a variety of channels. What books are you anxiously awaiting in 2012?

 


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© Online Marketing Blog, 2011. |
Top Online Marketing Books for 2012 | http://www.toprankblog.com


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